Pets evacuated from Fort McMurray wildfires receive help, but those left behind must wait

At this point, animal rescue groups can only provide assistance to pets that made it out of the Fort McMurray inferno. Those that didn't must wait.

Missing animals should be registered at Fort McMurray Fire Emergency Animal Assistance Facebook Page

This male dog was found during the evacuation of Fort McMurray and brought into the Bold Centre in Lac La Biche. He's since been reunited with his owner. (Saving Grace Animal Sanctuary/Facebook)

Animal rescue groups across Alberta are banding together to help pets affected by the Fort McMurray wildfires, but there is little they can do right now for those left behind.

"At this point there is no one who is going into the homes because it hasn't been declared safe yet," said R.J. Bailot with the Alberta Spay Neuter Task Force — the Calgary organization co-ordinating the relief effort.

"People are becoming desperate and it's sad — because we don't have any answers for them."

Bailot said there are not even any staff left at the Fort McMurray SPCA, which was evacuated on Wednesday.

He said they have volunteers on standby who are well trained to rescue animals in disaster zones, but until the mandatory evacuation order is lifted — all they can do is help pets that made it out with their owners, who are now taking refuge elsewhere.

This male cat was temporarily separated from his owner during the chaotic evacuation of Fort McMurray on Tuesday. (Saving Grace Animal Sanctuary Facebook)
A woman seen galloping on horseback through downtown Fort McMurray on Tuesday, fleeing a wildfire that's caused a mandatory evacuation. (Submitted by Julie Lodge)

Kennels collected for displaced pets

The Alberta Animal Rescue Crew Society and the Calgary Humane Society needed 900 crates to be dropped off Thursday at their Calgary shelters to send north. 

They received more than enough kennel donations, some of which were flown to Suncor camps that are housing evacuees who did manage to get their pets out in time. The company is now in the process of flying people and their pets to the south.

"There's so much involved because so many people have animals," Bailot told the Calgary Eyeopener on Thursday.

"Think about the thousands of people being evacuated — there's going to be thousands of animals that are being displaced too."

Staff and volunteers with the Calgary Humane Society are collecting kennels Thursday morning. They will be flown to northern Alberta for pets displaced by the Fort McMurray wildfires. (Mike Spenrath/CBC)

Evacuees forced to leave their animals behind in their homes in Fort McMurray are asked to fill out an animal assistance request form through the Fort McMurray Fire Emergency Animal Assistance Facebook Page.

When officials give animal rescue groups the green light to go into the city, they'll be armed with the information they need to recover pets.

The same form should also be used by evacuees who need food or shelter for their animals while they are living in temporary accommodations — or to find a pet-friendly place to stay.

Pet map

People can also pinpoint the location where they lost, or found, a pet in and around Fort McMurray on a map, which is already populated with hundreds of posts of dogs, cats, lizards, fish, bunnies, birds, horses and livestock.

People can list animals lost and found in and around Fort McMurray, Alta. (

With files from the Calgary Eyeopener